It will soon be time to tackle new seeds

Winter flowering pansies
Winter flowering pansies
Now is the time to get to grips with your strawberry bed.

BRIAN KIDD: Strawberry fields forever – but renew them every three years

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We will soon be sowing seeds of spring flowering flowers, but a lot of gardeners will be short of space, making it difficult to find any room because the garden is already full of summer flowering plants.

Winter flowering pansies, forget-me-nots and cultivated daisies are easy to deal with because they can be sown in seed trays in the open garden, providing the cats and birds can be kept away. Try bamboo canes inserted into the ground with wreath wires pushed into the tops to keep the horizontal canes in place.

All spring flowering seeds can be sown in the open ground, of course.

Wallflowers are quite easy to grow and the seeds are sown in about a week’s time.

If the seed sowing can be timed when it’s going to rain, the seeds will germinate in about a week, but if the weather remains dry they quickly become ruined by a pest know as flea beetle.

As soon as the first leaves are fully unfurled, the edges appear to be scorched.

If it continues to be hot over the next few days, the whole row will become brown.

The beetles are hard to spot because they hop away as soon as we walk along the row. The answer is to sow when rain is expected and as soon as they germinate, dust the seedlings with ant powder.

Can wallflowers be sown in seed trays? Not successfully as the plants produce quite a large root system and become weak and woody after eight weeks.

There is a way to grow them by sowing seeds in a seed tray. Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, plant five seedlings around the edge of a five inch diameter pot. John Innes 2 compost is best as wallflowers adore chalk and JI composts are alkaline.

You may have seen wallflowers grown like this at garden centres during the autumn.

Oddly, this method avoids the flea beetle as the beetle can only hop to a height of about a foot, and if they are growing in the pots higher than a foot, the beetles can’t attack them.

The great advantage of growing your own is that you can choose the colours you love best and I am pleased that garden centres are now realising this.

I saw five different types of wallflowers in pots last autumn. They were not cheap but at least they weren’t just mixed.

If you would like to have a splash of sunshine, even in the shade next spring, choose Golden Bedder.

If you dream of Spain, use Orange Bedder.

Or if your garden always looks cold in spring sow Scarlet Bedder or Blood Red which despite its unpleasant name is a very dark red.

Just a reminder, all wallflowers are perfumed and bees and early butterflies adore them.